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Angler’s little fish worth a big prize in Seward derby

  • Author: Beth Bragg
    | Sports
  • Updated: August 16, 2017
  • Published August 16, 2017

Shortly after leaving the Seward boat harbor on their way to Agnes Cove in search of monster silver salmon Monday, Ian Wetherhorn and three companions dropped lines to make sure their gear was in working order.

In no time, two of them had fish on at the same time.

"Of course, mine was the teeny, tiny one," Wetherhorn said. "We reeled it in so fast and netted it and bonked it on the head and went to put our attention on my buddy's fish that we didn't even look at my fish."

Several hours and several fish later, Wetherhorn's brother Neville opened the fish hold and saw what no one had noticed earlier: A little blue tag near the dorsal fin of that teeny, tiny fish.

On Thursday, Wetherhorn will trade the tag for a 2017 Chevy Silverado.

A 36-year-old mechanic from Houston, Wetherhorn caught the tagged fish late Monday morning on the boat he owns with his wife, Alice.

It's one of 15 Resurrection Bay cohos tagged for this year's derby. The big one — worth $50,000 — is still out there, as are 13 others.

The nine-day derby ends Sunday at noon, and so far the fish to beat is the 13.96-pounder caught by Soldotna's Jennifer Shelton on Wednesday. Derby officials said Shelton caught her fish near Lowell Point. The derby's biggest fish will pay $10,000.

So far Wetherhorn is the only angler to catch a tagged fish. He said if his party hadn't hooked two fish at the same time, he might have released his without giving it a good look.

"Are you ready for this?" he said. "My Chevy Silverado fish weighed a whopping 3.62 pounds. It was the smallest fish of the day. It's the smallest silver I think I've ever caught, period.

"They only reason we kept it is we had another fish on."

It would have taken longer to take out the hook and release the small salmon than it did to keep it, Wetherhorn said, and he was in a hurry to help net his buddy's fish.

Wetherhorn drives a 2012 Ram 1500 and said he's never owned a new truck. He intends to break in the Silverado this weekend when he returns to Seward this weekend for a bachelor party — and more fishing.

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